Critical Race Theory (CRT) has inadvertently become a new conservative/liberal dividing line. An election was decided in large part by it and state legislatures are busy trying to prevent it.
But does anyone really know what it is? Academics who specialize in this topic do…but do the rest of us?
To satisfy my curiosity, I did some research over the Christmas break. It became clear that this is an academic framework to examine and explain race issues in America. I only read two academic articles, both were technical and I quickly realized that the research that I didn’t review is voluminous. As is true with most academic hypotheses, while it is widely accepted, there is also criticism from both liberal and conservative academicians.
So, how did such a technical academic topic come into the public consciousness? An academician described it on a conservative channel, and it took off based on a fear that this will be used to teach that White Americans and American institutions are racists.
People act as if shaping messages in public and private school is wrong, scary, inappropriate, etc.
But the truth is that schools have been and will continue to shape messages about race, gender, sex, and identity. Religious schools are expected to indoctrinate their students on the rules and tenets of their religion.
When I was in grade school (approximately a million years ago), the information that I learned about Black Americans was shaped by the epic film and novel, Gone with the Wind. I learned that “good” Black Americans stayed on as slaves, grateful for any praise or trinkets that they might receive. Black American men were intent on stealing and raping White women. And other African American people, like the Prissy character, were fools and liars, desperately needing a good slap. Our substantial local Black history was barely mentioned.
I would have appreciated getting a different message, as it took years to uncover the insidiousness of this programming.
Curriculums have changed since I went to school, and they will continue to change to reflect new knowledge and changes in the culture.
So, before we embrace or vilify this theory, I think that it makes sense to learn what it actually is.
To help us, on January 18th, St Michaels Community Conversations and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Easton are hosting a conversation about Critical Race Theory: What It Is and What It Isn’t with Dr. Bernard Demczuk. An Easton resident, Dr. Demczuk is currently an African American Cultural Historian and Professor at the University of the District of Columbia. He is also the author of Mame’s Spirit, An Afro Futurist Love Story Remixed with Righteousness and West African Spirituality.
To further our understanding, they will also be hosting a panel discussion on CRT on February 15th. To receive a ZOOM link for January 18th, email email@example.com.
I hope that believers and skeptics alike will join me for this timely conversation. There is nothing more powerful than knowledge.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.